UF’s Craw­ford throws no-hit­ter in 2012 NCAAs

Orlando Sentinel - - Sports Monday - By Edgar Thomp­son

For­mer UF pitcher Jonathon Craw­ford evolved from a sel­dom-used freshman in 2011 to a first-round draft pick two years later.

In be­tween, Craw­ford ex­pe­ri­enced one of the most mag­i­cal days on the mound by a Gator.

On June 2, 2012, Craw­ford drew the start­ing as­sign­ment for the top-seeded Ga­tors’ NCAA Tour­na­ment opener against Bethune-Cook­man. The sopho­more right-han­der from Okee­chobee made his NCAA de­but one to re­mem­ber by toss­ing a no-hit­ter.

“It was a great night by Jonathon,” coach Kevin O’Sul­li­van told the school’s web­site af­ter UF’s 4-0 win. “Bethune is al­ways a very good team. We needed a spe­cial out­ing by Jonathon. I am very proud of Jonathon, but also very proud of our team.”

Craw­ford struck out five and walked just one bat­ter on 98 pitches to be­come the first UF pitcher to throw a no-hit­ter since John Burke against Fur­man in 1991 and just the sec­ond in school his­tory.

Craw­ford pitched just 32⁄3 in­nings the pre­vi­ous sea­son as a freshman and was left off the trav­el­ing ros­ter to the 2011 Col­lege World Se­ries, where the Ga­tors fin­ished run­ners-up to South Carolina.

A year later, Craw­ford posted a 6-2 record with a 3.19 earned-run av­er­age and 73 strike­outs in 772⁄3 in­nings. He failed to build on his break­out per­for­mance in 2013, though, fin­ish­ing 3-6 with a 3.84 ERA.

The Detroit Tigers still saw enough po­ten­tial to se­lect the 6-foot-2, 205-pound Craw­ford with the 20th pick in the 2013 draft, re­port­edly ink­ing him to a $2 mil­lion sign­ing bonus.

Traded in De­cem­ber of 2014 to the Cincin­nati Reds, Craw­ford soon was di­ag­nosed with a torn labrum in his right shoul­der that took the zip out of his 97 mph fast­ball.

Now 28, Craw­ford cur­rently is a free agent fol­low­ing sev­eral stops at the lower ranks of the game, in­clud­ing a 2017 as­sign­ment with the Class A Day­tona Tor­tu­gas.

“I can’t re­ally choose the hand I’m dealt nec­es­sar­ily,” Craw­ford told the Or­lando Sen­tinel that spring. “I tried to take [the in­jury] and learn from it a lit­tle bit. I try to use it to make me a bet­ter player.”

Wher­ever Craw­ford’s ca­reer ends up, though, few have been bet­ter than him eight years ago today for the Ga­tors. Five UF pitch­ers have been se­lected dur­ing the first round of the draft since 2013, but none threw a no-hit­ter while in Gainesvill­e.

With sports sus­pended dur­ing the coro­n­avirus pan­demic, the Or­lando Sen­tinel staff will high­light great mo­ments in lo­cal sports his­tory each day un­til our teams re­sume play. If you want to sug­gest a mile­stone worth cel­e­brat­ing at the high school, col­lege or pro level, email il­imon@or­lan­dosen­tinel.com.

AP

UF sopho­more Jonathon Craw­ford pitches against Bethune-Cook­man dur­ing the ninth in­ning of a no-hit­ter in the 2012 NCAA Re­gion­als in Gainesvill­e.

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